Schliesser on Shortening the PhD

Posted on September 24, 2015 by

I  often reflect on my experiences in graduate school, especially now that they are coming to an end, and for what it’s worth I plan on writing about these crazy times when I come up for air in a  few years (It’s been 7 years between getting my M.A from Washington State Uni. and now entering my 5th and final year at UCalgary). Maybe that’s why I found a recent post by University of Ghent Professor of Philosopher Eric Schliesser so interesting. In it, he reflects briefly on his time at Chicago where he received his PhD and compares the amount of time it took to complete, to the European model which takes shaves off upwards to 3-4 years of schooling overall. Personally, I think shaving  that much time comes with a big cost and Schliesser does a nice job pointing to some clear pros and cons that the shorter Phd time brings. Anyway, below is an excerpt. It’s a short piece overall and worth the read if you’re into this sort of thing.


“Yet, when PhDs are shortened the ceteris is not paribus. For, if you spend two to three years less in higher education, you are also taking or auditing far fewer classes and you are also giving yourself much less time to read, to talk, and to explore new connections. To put it in economicsy terms: the investment in your human capital is lower. And, once folk hit the job-market and start a job, the temporal possibility for in-depth exploring often gets dramatically diminished. So, while there are undoubtedly gains in efficiency and productivity (as measured by academic output), it is by no means obvious the shortened PhD generates equal improvements in quality (the reader is welcome to exclude herself here).”

The original post can be found here.